Driving on the same road every day, a New Whiteland man has memorized when to swerve a bit to the right and where to move his car a little to the left in order to avoid potholes.

Jason Morris knows to zig-zag on the way to and from work along South Emerson Avenue, between Pushville and Worthsville roads, to avoid the craters and holes that could cause him to blow a tire or damage his vehicle.

This time of year, potholes are one of the top complaints local communities hear about. In Franklin and the county, for example, the street and highway departments are fielding as many as four calls a day.

“This time of year, potholes are the most important task we have,” county highway director Luke Mastin said. “When plowing snow is no longer a concern, we go right into patching season.”

Local governments spend thousands each year patching and repairing the holes that form in roads due to ice thawing and eating away at the asphalt. And their goal is to fix those problem areas within 24 to 48 hours of learning about them, officials said. The time between receiving a call about potholes and patching them depends on the amount of potholes the department is working on that day and how many crews the county has available, Mastin said.

They want them fixed fast because if they don’t any damage to vehicles could be their responsibility, Mastin said. When motorists suffer damage to their car from a pothole, they can report it and file a claim, Mastin said. So far, the county has not received any damage claims, Mastin said.

Hitting a pothole once may not cause damage. But repeatedly going over them could mess up the suspension on a car, Morris said.

In order to be on the road each day patching and repairing potholes, the highway department relies on the public’s input, Mastin said. County crews have an area they are sent to work each day, but as calls come in about other potholes that need patched, workers can get them fixed that day. For example, within a couple days after a Center Grove area resident saw as many as six cars suffer damage from potholes on Smokey Row Road, those holes were patched.

“Every day we have a crew looking for potholes, but we can’t be everywhere and we can’t find them all, so we count on the public to let us know where they are,” Mastin said.

In Franklin, a two-man crew goes out each day to cover a route based off of areas where concerns have been reported, Franklin street department director Andy Duckworth said.

When Franklin receives a call about a pothole, the average response time to get it fixed is about 24 hours, Duckworth said.

Because of the rainy weather and changes in temperature during springtime, it’s not uncommon to have to fix the same pothole twice between the spring and summer, Duckworth said.

Rain also can delay the time it takes for crews to patch a pothole. Pothole issues usually don’t subside until after the spring, Mastin said.

“This is a problem throughout the spring and it’s countywide,” Mastin said. “We take road damage seriously, and this is an issue that needs to be addressed to avoid more work. It’s preventative work.”

At a glance

If you hit a pothole on a local road, motorists are also encouraged to call their local government offices. Below are the phone numbers for city and town street departments in Johnson County.

Johnson County: 317-346-4630 

Franklin: 317-736-3660

Greenwood: 317-887-5607

Whiteland: 317-535-6359

New Whiteland: 317-535-4770

Edinburgh: 317-526-3525

Author photo
Corey Elliot is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at celliot@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2719.